I rested my head against the rain-streaked window and stared down at the newspaper in my lap, unable to comprehend why the headline screamed in block letters, LOCAL TEEN DROWNS IN POOL: ATHLETE LIKELY TO SUCCEED DEAD AT 17.
Jason Lucasy. A kid I'd known since third grade. A stuck up jackass, but still. He'd been a part of my life, even shaping my relationship with Hunter. I'd punched him in the stomach for giving Hunter a bloody nose, and got us both suspended. And now he was gone.
I put the newspaper down--it made my heart ache to think about--and swung my legs down off the window seat. I stood up and my eyes fell on a photo that stood on my bedstand, dusty behind the glass pane like a glazed-over memory. Hunter and I, maybe eight years old, beaming gapped-toothed smiles at the unseen camera, our hands thrust deep in pockets of muddy overalls. We were crouched together at the edge of a sandy beach, towering over our lopsided sandcastles, the king and queen of our fabricated domain. Gently, I reached a trembling hand out and gingerly picked up the picture, my fingers leaving prints in the thick dust. It seemed like a whole lifetime had come and gone since that picture had been taken. We were so young then, so young still. Yet we had grown up since then. We had seen more than anyone should have to see. We were like war-weary soldiers, ready to give up the fight.
I set the picture down and tried to push the thoughts out of my head. I was focusing too much on the bad and not giving enough thought to the good that had come about. Hunter was alive. I hadn't lost him after all.
Is that such a miracle after all?
I sighed and headed down the stairs, trailing my hand along the railing as I went. My mind was a swirling mess of thoughts that I couldn't seem to sort out. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to sort it out. The mess always seems smaller before it's all laid out on the table.
I went into the kitchen and grabbed a soda out of the fridge, letting some of my worries drift away with the fizz of carbonation as I popped the pull tab and took a long, slow drink. I pulled myself onto a bar stool and sat at the counter with my elbows on the table, twirling my stool halfheartedly around with one foot and tapping my fingers on the countertop. It took almost two minutes before I even realized the envelope in front of me.
It was important looking, addressed to Emiliano T'Adora in thick letters and with a government seal in the corner. I slid my finger under the flap and pulled out a thick sheet of paper.
It only took a few seconds for me to scan the letter and pick out the words NOTICE OF EVICTION at the top. It took even less to realize that my mess had just gotten a lot bigger.